Citizenship and Cortizocracy
by Miguel Antonio Bernal
The outrageous scandal of the so-called VarelaLeaks once again leads me to discover how little those in political power care about the citizens.
The irrational enjoyment of the endless privileges and advantages that an administration’s monopoly over public resources has led recent governments into all kinds of abuses and over-reaches that, at the end of the road, go unpunished. Defenseless citizens must count their wounds and hide their growing discomfort for fear of reprisals.
In less than five months, the an administration elected by a minority has executed a series of moves that follow the same guidelines of the previous ones: the country is a business and they do not plan to waste an opportunity to profit instead of governing. The Cortizocracy has taken off.
To the appointments of ministers and heads of other executive dependencies (autonomous, semi-autonomous, ambassador, consul, etc.) under the prevailing ultra-presidentialism we must now add the appointment of an attorney general, plus three magistrates and six alternates on the Supreme Court. The latter, in addition to the mega absence of independence and transparency, has also seen its manipulation stripped bare in the VarelaLeaks.
The Cortizocracy has moved quickly to insert its tentacles and hijack all the organs of the state. The concentration of power is unchecked and, accompanied by the attempt to impose, without any real consultation, illusory reforms to the militarist constitution under which Panama has lived for more than 47 years.
In the absolute absence of citizen participation or consultation, the Cortizocracy must face civic inquiries about what lies ahead:
Will the professionals anointed by the executive tell us, by their works, writings, speeches and records of civic participation, about their public stands in defense of human rights, due process, democratic values and support for a constitutional rule of law?
What will we know about the state of their health? Would they undergo a psychological test? A psychiatric examination?
Would they publicly answer 25 questions asked by a citizen jury?
Would they show a family tree with their connections, if they have them, with the president, vice president, deputies or suplentes? Ministers or vice ministers? Current magistrates?
Would they show us their tax returns for the past 10 years?
Would they tell us about any stakes they hold in banks, or communications media?
Would they close their law offices?
The citizens’ bitterness about the present order will increase. Sooner rather than later it will have to be expressed. Let’s get ready!
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